Frank Sinatra Surprised by Don Rickles in Hilarious 1976 ‘Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’ Clip

by Joe Rutland

Back in the 1970s, the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” would have stars on it. Imagine Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles on together.

It happened one night in 1976. Sinatra, who appears in an open-collar shirt and suit, is having a conversation with Carson. It’s a little back-and-forth with Johnny Carson asking who Sinatra listens to when he wants to feel in a romantic mood.

Sinatra, jokingly, mentions some singers and musicians. Well, about that time, the audience starts cheering and the camera cuts to Rickles walking out.

Rickles Back On ‘Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’

Carson looks over as Rickles walks through the multi-colored curtain. It seems like Carson and Sinatra are surprised by the comedian’s visit. Walk-ons like Rickles’ on the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” were commonplace, especially for Rickles.

Anyway, Rickles walks over, walks past Carson, then looks at Sinatra and falls down on his knees. Once back up, Rickles also shakes hands with Carson and longtime Carson announcer Ed McMahon. Then the fun ensues.

Rickles sits down, looks right at Sinatra, and Sinatra asks Carson to excuse them. Rickles starts out by telling Sinatra about some made-up meeting with hitmen.

Rickles tosses in a bit about having a guy taken out by two bullets to the head. Sinatra is laughing through all of this as is the “Tonight Show” audience.

Don Rickles Proves His Undying Love For Sinatra

Once this is done, then Rickles declares his undying love for Sinatra. He gets up and plants one kiss on Sinatra’s lips. Rickles decides one time isn’t enough, so he does it again. This time, Sinatra pushes Rickles away and just laughs at the whole scene.

Sinatra, by this time, decides to share a story about Rickles with Carson and the audience. It had to do with Rickles asking Sinatra to do him a favor while Rickles was dining with a woman. This story puts Rickles in his place.

The clip may feel a bit dated while watching it. Rickles and Sinatra, in real life, were very close friends. They respected one another and knew one another and their families for decades.

Sadly, all who appear in this clip have died. Rickles died in 2017, Sinatra died in 1998, Carson died in 2005, and McMahon died in 2009. Rickles’ widow Barbara died on Sunday, the day that would have been their 56th wedding anniversary, at 84 years old.

Enjoy this very funny turn-back-the-clock clip from the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” on Nov. 12, 1976.